God Planted a Garden in the East

garden-in-the-east-cover

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 2:8-9

 

The ink is not quite dry yet on my new book, Garden in the East but it’s getting there, I promise.

I’m excited to see this one come to life. It’s been a very different writing experience from Nearly Orthodox. The first time I sat down to put words to Garden in the East, I pushed through what felt like a brick wall with each chapter. The good news from that first draft was that I actually found a way to push through and get to whatever the other side happened to be. The bad news is that once there, I found more walls and piles of rubble. I didn’t like the first draft of the book. In fact, I think I probably hated it.

Voice played a part. I just could not quite nail the voice of the book. My essay work has a certain voice– vulnerable but still somewhat detached from the subject at hand. My memoir work, particularly Nearly Orthodox has yet another version of this vulnerable voice. In this case, though, the added rambling of memory played a significant part. When I write poetry, I focus on words that transcend, like diving into a deep lake on a clear, cold day. The voice here is immersive and rich. When I write for my personal training clients, I choose a more authoritative voice, knowledgeable, yet kind and patient.

But Garden in the East is a different animal altogether, and the first draft tried to hard to be the personal trainer voice. On re-reading, it felt like a bossy and full of know it all voice. I threw it away. I’m not the boss of you.

The second draft took the concepts I covered as a bossy coach and softened into the mush of my own struggle. I stuck it in a box for a month and then read it again to see if maybe it had blossomed while in the dark but, sadly, it hadn’t. No miracle had sprung from that draft while I was away. I hated that draft too.

Finally, I asked myself what I would want if I were the one reading the book. I would want someone to walk alongside me, someone who knew a little bit about the struggle and knew a little bit about a healthy response to the struggle. I’d want to read words that were rich, like poetry. I’d want to hear concepts that were foundational to my life too. I’d want some solid information that was not likely to shift like sand in the wind when the next fitness fad came to town.

And so, the third draft was written with the hope of being that voice, the voice of the person who cares about you and about me and about the things that are enduring. We’re grasping it together here in this garden, planting and watering and pruning and then sitting in awe of how miraculous we are.

I hope that the book I wrote comes close to the one I envisioned. I hope that the third draft voice and all the edited versions thereafter that worked to make that voice and these concepts clear will produce some fine moments for the reader.

The finished product will show up in the warehouse in mid-December. You can get a leg up on a free copy here on GoodReads if that’s your thing.

I’m grateful to be able to do this work and for the thumbs up from Ancient Faith for this small patch of earth in which to plant this Garden in the East.

**You can now Pre-Order the book online with Ancient Faith’s bookstore, here!**

3 comments:

  1. I have picked your first book and was interested in buying it. I heard your most recent podcast the other day, and will now be reading BOTH of your books. It’s great to have a voice like yours out there in the Orthodox world (and reaching beyond it). I have done a lot of academic writing in early Medieval eastern Christianity, but am trying to find a way into a more popular (and readable) form of writing. You’re a great guide, and well beyond what you might do for the selfish motives attached to my career goals.

  2. I purchased your new book and look forward to reading it. I enjoyed reading Nearly Orthodox and ended up reading Scott Cairns’ wonderful book, Short Trip to the Edge, which you mentioned in your writing. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!

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